You might wonder what a 31-year-old woman in her thirties knows about fashion for older women. I had the same question. Who is Londoner Jacynth Bassett, and why, as a late twenty-something, did she leave her law studies behind to launch an online women’s clothing boutique—an all-inclusive boutique that has older women in mind? Bassett explains that she has always been a fashionista and that when accompanying her mother on shopping sprees, she realized how frustrating it was for older women like her “mum” to find clothes that fit and reflected their sense of style. Thus, the idea behind the Bias Cut (a brilliant entendre) was born. Today, Bassett’s online women’s clothing site flourishes. And her Ageism Is Never In Style®, the campaign, movement, and consultancy arm of the company, leads the way in calling out ageism and changing the narrative. As testimony to her commitment and accomplishments, Bassett was named "One of the Evening Standard’s 22 Londoners Changing The World in 2022.”
Check out www.thebiascut.com and see for yourself.
Do you feel overlooked and invisible because you're an older woman? Have you had those age jump days when you look in the mirror and swear that you're looking at your mother? Do you feel the clock ticking and wonder whether you have enough time to check off all the items on your bucket list? Hello, I'm Jane Leder and I'm the host of Older Women and Friends, a podcast about and four older women that kick stereotypes to the curb. We older women are the keepers of stories, and guests on Older Women and Friends share their stories about love, loss, dreams, friendships. But let's not kid ourselves Aging can be a messy, complex affair. But older women have been around the block a few times and learned a thing or two, and this podcast celebrates their lessons. So put in your earbuds and join me on Older Women and Friends. If you ask older women what they think about how they're portrayed in the media, they'll give you an earful. Every stereotype in the books is on display we're sad, we're lonely, we're impaired in some way or another, and we're certainly old fashioned. And if you ask the same group of older women how they feel about the fashion industry, you'll hear a chorus of I can't wear that. So Enter Jathen Bassett, who, in 2015, launched the bias cut, which is a first age inclusive, multi-label, premium online shopping platform for women. I love that double entendre of cutting on the bias and cutting out bias when it comes to women in aging, but I'll let Jathen did I do that right? Pronounce it for me again. Yeah, jathen, yep, okay, tell the full story and hear through the magic of telecommunications all the way from London is my guest today? Hello, how are you? Hi, jane, I'm very well. Thank you, how are you? I'm doing well. As I understand it, you were in law school when you came up with the idea of the bias cut, and my question is what was a young woman, who I assume was still in her 30s, thinking about women and fashion, specifically older women and fashion?Speaker 2:
So I was actually 20. I was even younger I'm only just in my 30s now, actually so I guess I was studying law at Cambridge, when in the UK it's not a post grad course, you do it as an undergraduate course, hence why I was younger doing it, and I'd always thought law would be my passion and my interest. And as much as I found it interesting studying it, I realized it wasn't and instead at the time I started becoming more interested in business and it was pointed out to me that maybe that was a different potential route and avenue for me to pursue and I thought, okay, if I was going to go down the business route, it needs to be in something I'm interested in and it's something I'm passionate about. This is what I've been searching for, it's what I hope law would be, and it hasn't been. So it needs to be something that I'm really going to enjoy and also have an impact. So, very quickly I thought about fashion being one of my biggest passions and interests generally outside of academia and studying. Interesting in industry I never thought I could be a part of, because we do know of it being very exclusive, and I thought it was. I put it in a pedestal, almost in my mind as something that I couldn't be connected to. I had no connections or contacts or friends or anything like that who worked in fashion or media. But I thought, okay, fashion, start with something you're interested in. And then I thought about how it is a very saturated industry. But also I wanted to do something that actually had an impact and made a difference and I started thinking about my mum as somebody who also loved clothes. She really taught me about the importance of style being a reflection of who you are, of being your part of your identity and actually the value and or feeling good in what you wear. I had noticed increasingly as I got older. So she had me when she was aged 40. So really in particular when I guess she was in her fifties and I was in my teenage years, we would go shopping together. She would increasingly struggle to find clothes she wanted to wear and how to try to be stylish. She wants to be modern but, as with a lot of women, her body shape had changed with age from having children men, obviously, things like menopause our bodies do naturally do often change with ages, particularly for women, and she was finding most media was the imagery was very focus. We know all this. It was all very use focused and she was increasingly feeling alienated. So it was really that that gave me the idea of creating a shopping platform and space that empowered women of all ages to feel included in fashion and to find style and their personal style that they really love. And I finished my degree. I did quite a bit of research. I did about a year and a half research, being conscious of the fact that I am younger and I wanted to really get to understand the wants and the desires and the needs and demands of different women and as women, particularly over the age of 40, 50, 60s. And I did a bit of contract legal work, so I got that the legal side of me just to raise a bit of money, just a very small amount of money. And then I launched a blog, the bias cut blog and thank you, I'm so glad you got the double entendre because not everyone gets that and you've got it spot on. And I launched the blog in 2015 as a way to build a conversation and a narrative and just really get to understand again more community, get to know the followers and the audience. And then, in March 2016, I launched the actual boutique. So that's kind of the story.Speaker 1:
I love it. Well, how did people react? I mean, here you are studying law and suddenly say oh, by the way, I've changed my direction. I'm going into fashion and not only going in, but I'm going to focus on an all-inclusive line of clothing. Did they think you'd gone totally off the?Speaker 2:
rails. I mean my parents were very supportive. My parents themselves were lawyers, most of my friends were lawyers. I mean my life had been surrounded by lawyers. So I mean some people say to my parents that you just pointed and my mom goes what are you going on about? I get lovely clothes. Now Of course I don't want to disappoint you. The good thing was I realized I didn't want to be a lawyer. At the same time they had kind of realized I didn't want to be, wasn't right for being a lawyer. Then when I said to them I've decided I want to be a lawyer, they went great, we agree Cool. They were very supportive of everything I was doing. I think externally other people thought I might have lost the plot slightly. Now I'm not like that. But I see, with a lot of people who start businesses, you get very protective of your idea and you get very cagey and worried about people stealing your idea. So you don't really tell anybody. So at the time for a good year or so, people knew a couple of years was I'm not becoming a lawyer, I'm doing something in fashion, which that wasn't a surprise to people because I'd always had a big interest in fashion and I was known for being the fashion person. So that wasn't a surprise. But what was a surprise was I think a lot of people assumed I was going to create something for my, specifically for my, for me in my age group. So they thought I was going to try and be in the next ASOS or something which of course, I would never try and do. So I think that was that was there was an assumption there. And then I and there were people who were surprised that, having been very academic and a high achiever, I think people were surprised I didn't continue doing down that traditional route. So there was a bit of what's happened. But then when I launched the business, it was interesting because at first, I would say, some of my peers were quite dismissive. They just thought, if even thought over 40s, they were very much like that's not for me, and quite a lot didn't engage, I'd say. Then they've actually, over time, become much more engaged and I think what's been quite exciting is seeing how they really love what I'm doing. And I actually bumped into somebody yesterday who's the older sister of someone I went to school with and she said to me I've seen everything you're doing around aging and this is somebody who's in her early 30s who's like it's so cool seeing all the stuff we're doing. So that's actually been really exciting because seeing how they've engaged my peers have engaged with the messaging we also have our ageism is never in style. That's our activism platform and so we're doing a lot of campaigning and projects around age representation and disrupting the norms and so we're getting a lot of people who are younger engaging as well, saying you're actually making me less scared about getting older. So that's really encouraging. On the other side, you've got the people who women who are a bit older who pretty much from day one were very supportive of what I was doing. I was a little bit nervous that being younger would put people off and think what does she think she's doing? Who does she think she is? Kind of narrative, which is not what it is at all. It's very much an incredibly empowering experience, but it's understandable. People might initially think that. So when I started the blog, I was very open and honest about who I was and what I was doing, but I kind of took a little bit more of a step back in terms of my being visual on what we were doing. But it was interesting how the response very quickly was no, but I like the fact you're younger. That's really interesting. So I've also inadvertently become the face of the business in a way I'd never envisaged, because actually women have said, of all, I've got younger women going, you're making me feel better about getting older, and then older women saying it's actually really encouraging seeing somebody younger engaging with this and flying the flag for all of us, and so that's been a very positive reaction, which has been lovely, so yeah.Speaker 1:
No, it's fabulous. I loved your expression. lost the plot, I've just written that down that is so English, so English, and as a writer and a person of words, I've already written that down, and you answered a question that I was going to ask you later, which is what do you see your role as in terms of influencing younger women? And I think you've addressed that, and one of the themes that I deal with in this podcast is the importance of intergenerational relationships. Yes, and I find it very encouraging that you are seeing many younger women who are looking at this and saying it's not so bad to get older. Hey, look at those women, they're pretty cool man. They're out there doing their thing, they look great, they're dressing as a reflection of themselves and not as a reflection of a particular age group. And I know you wrote at one point that representation matters. It influences I'm reading this how we see ourselves and how others see us. It boosts our self worth, self esteem and creates a sense of value and validation within society. Still, abide by those words.Speaker 2:
Absolutely. I think it's so important. I think we can be quite dismissive of the importance of being seen because there can be a sense of almost vanity. People think there's a sense of vanity to it, but it's not. When you see yourself included, it is exactly what you've said, what we've repeated. It improves our sense of self worth and belonging. We can't be what we can't see, so it can inspire you to feel you can be a part of something or you can fit in. I think right now what's really interesting is like with the whole Barbie film coming out and of course there's an awful lot of conversation around Barbie and how there was that one look of this slim, white, blonde woman. And I had a friend who said to me did you like Barbie as a child? And I'll be honest, I did. And actually Barbie was one of the first things that got me into fashion because I used to do the styling and the dressing of the Barbie doll. But she said, well, I didn't see myself seen in Barbie. They didn't. My friend is of Hong Kong background, so it was like there was no Barbie to represent me and I was like, of course, I mean I was the blonde, white girl, so of course I felt seen in the Barbie doll, but my friends didn't, and I think they're doing more around. They're even showing the importance of representation and interesting with the Barbies. I mean I'd love to see more age inclusivity with Barbie. I think it's a powerful tool in showing how, even from a very young age, if you're not seen in something, if you don't, but if you don't see yourself reflected, then you start to believe you can't do something and you're not. You don't have worth and value. But it's not just ageism gendered ageism in particular we're looking at here, which is the representation of women as they get older. We see it across the board, from Hollywood to in advertising to everywhere. You see how men are allowed to age much more than women are. And so what a lot of work we're doing is around that and those specific intersectional issues around aging and sexism, as you say. I mean it's exactly why we then went well, we were already doing it, but it spurred me on even more, so we actually then launched through ageism is never in style our activism campaign are. We worked with a charity in the UK called Center for Aging Better to actually launch the first of its kind, which is a series of editorial style images of women over 50 that are stock images that are free to anyone around the world can download them and to just almost offer a blueprint on. Look, this is what it can look like to do real, authentic representation of women. I was interested in you mentioned about the grey hair because one of the things we were very we did a survey first to inform the project and I was very adamant about is this is not going to just be a box ticking exercise. This is not just going to be there's that person who looks like that and there's that person. And we were conscious, being a charity, it was a very small project. We could only feature six women. You can't represent every single person with six women. So I said we're going to really use this survey and we're going to hopefully this is just the beginning and this is just a pilot. We're going to hone in on a particular part of the survey and one of the things that came out which was very interesting in the survey was how many women are getting increasingly fed up with just seeing somebody grey hair as the way of being represented. And it's not that there's anything against grey hair. It's fantastic having grey hair and it's amazing the movement we've seen with more and more women embracing grey hair, like it's wonderful. But not everybody wants to have grey hair in the same way. I don't want to have brown hair right now and I'm blonde, it's just. It's a hair color choice. Not everyone goes grey. Or they go grey in different ways, or you can have bits of grey, can put other bits that aren't. It's all about choice and, as you say, what we're seeing now in the media is very much this almost stereotype of yes, there is representation, once upon a time there was nothing. Now there is something, but it's this one look, and actually the same. The other thing that came up was exactly that funky style came up. So we were very adamant. We weren't going to go down that route and so we featured six wonderful ladies. We started with 50s and 60s again. I didn't want it just to be rare, as a woman in her 50s, there's a woman in her 60s, there's the 70s, there's the 80s. We wanted to. We start with 50s and 60s, then we want to grow it further, to hopefully be able to go and redelve into more age group. Only two of the ladies have kind of salt and peppery hair. The overwhelming response has been very positive, but there's the odd person who has said, oh, but there's no full grey hair in it. It's because people want to see something else as well, and it's not that we're saying that now don't have grey hair. It's just saying there are plenty of women out there who also want to be represented, who don't have grey hair, and what's actually been particularly interesting is and lovely is, we've also really wanted to ensure there was ethnic diversity featured in the project, and so what's also been nice women saying, as a South Asian woman, frozen by finally, is a picture that doesn't I can actually relate to. So there's again, it's representation. You've got to have this a long way to go, but I think we're, yeah, hopefully meeting that direction.Speaker 1:
I was going to ask you about the campaign, but you've sorry. I can't jump everything, but that's what good interviews are about, and I will put the link to the photos on the show notes so that people can click and also, of course, the link to the online shopping platform, and I want to tell people. I said, okay, I'm going to go up there and I want to see for myself. So the first thing I noticed was that there was a tab that read shop with confidence yes and below that it said by body shape and I went, oh boy, by areas to show off and I'm going, I don't know if I have any left. And then it said areas you wish to cover and I thought, yes, I've got some and it's summertime and it's hot and I want to wear really sleeveless blouses, but it's not a great idea. My arms have gone south, like other parts of my body, so I clicked on areas that you that I wish to cover and I clicked on arms and I have to say I saw sweaters, I saw blouses, I saw jackets, I saw dresses, all of which had longer or in back sleeves that went down to our wrist, and it felt great. It was like I just saw so much that was available to me. And I'm just curious is that the kind of response that you get from women over and over again?Speaker 2:
yeah, it's really lovely, I think one of the nicest. I mean the responses we get generally are wonderful and I people say what keeps you going? What really does keep them going is the amazing responses from women who say the sort of that feeling of at last I found pieces that I want to wear and I would feel good in, and a stylish and contemporary and that was the thing with the body shape in the shop by. But it's all about empowering you to shop in the way you want to shop. So, with the arms, some women would love to shop. They would love to shop their arms. We're not going to pigeonhole you. We're not going to say you're this age, so now you need to cover your arms. But we know that there are women who do and there are women who don't. So it's about enabling you, with that choice, to immediately find the pieces that make you feel good. One of the things that I noticed a lot with my mom and her peers when I was doing the research is their clothes. There are clothes out there spending ages going left on a website or going through a rail, or clothes that you wouldn't want to wear or wouldn't faint you feel good. It's a demoralizing experience. To the point you just go what's the point? And that's not going to work. I remember even I'd say to my mom what about trying this? Well, that won't work, and it was just. It was this mindset that she'd got into, and completely understandably, because she'd been made to feel like the stuff she couldn't like. There wasn't anything for her. So that's exactly what we want you to feel is when you go on. The website is finally a reflection of yourself. You feel seen, you feel valued and you can find the clothes that you love and will feel good in. And then she. One of the things that comes up sometimes is around compliments, and it's interesting how a lot of women write a review and say I received a compliment for the first time in as long as I can remember, and sometimes it's from a husband or a family member, sometimes it's from a complete stranger, but it's interesting how, again, we, almost, as you get older, it's like we lose sense of we forget we're like to have a compliment for wearing, and that's sad. We're not wearing things for other people, but it just makes you feel nice, doesn't it? If someone reckons sees you and something that you feel seen. Again, I always remember when I was doing the blog, I was in Italy and I was asking ladies if I could take that picture because for the blog who were very stylish. And I went up to this lady with her daughter and she had an adult daughter and I don't know. This lady was perceived, she perceived, probably in her 60s could be wrong, but she looked like she might have been in her 60s and she had a very stylish daughter, but she was equally very stylish. And I said, could I take your picture please? And immediately she gestured to her daughter, assuming I wanted to take her daughter's picture and not hers, and I went no, I want to take your picture. And she couldn't believe it and you could see how touched she was. But also her daughter was so happy because her daughter was like, yes, my mom put her in the line way. The fact that she, her first assumption, was that it must be her daughter, the younger woman that I would want to photograph or compliment for looking good it's. I think it speaks volumes in itself. Really, I think that's how a lot of women do feel. So that's the feeling that hopefully, when you go to the bias card is you can find we know for color. We're known for print. We're not giving you the pieces that are second best. My rule, essentially, is, when we curate our collections, if I wouldn't want to wear it in my well now, I'm 31. But I wouldn't want to wear it, why should an older woman want to wear it? It's not about a different taste. Your taste doesn't change. You still love style and fashion and being contemporary. It's just as simple as things like sleeves and shape. That might be different or your styling, and so that's very important is that everyone can wear the pieces. And going back to what I was saying earlier about my friends, that's what's interesting as well is when they were initially a little bit, they didn't almost look at what I was doing. I think they just they heard you know women's the older and they just thought frumpy clothing. So they didn't think it beyond that. That's what society has told them is what that woman wears. So I'd go out wearing our clothes I wear our clothes all the time and they'd go I love that dress, where's that from? Say from my business, it's from the bias cut, and they go what? And then they'd go on the website and go us and say like, exactly. So that's kind of the point is you feel good about. It's just joyful style that anyone can enjoy and feel included in, and they can wear it Well.Speaker 1:
I think we probably have to wrap it up, but I think my last question is talking about joyous style and talking about joy, and I'm curious to know what you think or how you're feeling about getting older. Obviously, as a woman in your 30s eminent, obviously, you've got a couple decades of age- what brings to? go Older every day, but yeah yeah, we get older from the day we're born, so I think we can look at it that way. What is your attitude toward aging? How do you feel about it personally? Has this business changed your mind, or in what ways?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I feel I'm not going to pretend that I haven't we've all got our own internalized biases because we grow up in and we live in an ageist society. So there are times like I mean it sounds ridiculous even saying it now I turn 25 and I started to notice I was getting more anti-aging ads popping up and because apparently that's the age that they start marketing anti-aging products in 25. And there are moments I'd like looking at my face in the mirror then, gosh, do I. Because you see what is it? Three to 4,000 adverts a day. It's pretty hard to block out that noise, right If it gets into your psyche. So I always say, with anything with ageism and the first step to addressing ageism is self-awareness we all might make ageist comments or have internalized ageism subconsciously. So I think that's very important. So I'm not going to pretend to say like, no, I've got no, none of that. But through the business I feel very positive and I feel very excited. One of the things that I love is hearing how much more confident in themselves women become as they get older and the stories I hear about their lives and how much they just are having a. Yes, there are obviously life can bring lots of hurdles and difficulties, but as somebody myself who's struggled a lot with anxiety and I worry all the time, I'm excited to become the Like to develop into a much more self-assured, much more confident person. And I have struggled with low self-esteem and I hope these women are inspiring me. And talking to women yourself like talking to all these different women of different ages is just exciting to see what there is and where life can take you, I think, particularly talking about the anti-age, and there's also all these awards like Forbes 30 under 30. And it can. It's almost like unless you hit like a certain success at 30, you're a failure and it's absolutely ridiculous. So really, through everything that I'm doing and it's the women that I get to amend, that I'm speaking to and engaging through with my work they're the ones that are making me feel more and more positive. I think it's also just very encouraging seeing how the narrative is changing and how this age positive movement is becoming more and more prominent. I do completely agree with you that the next thing is age is intergenerational relationships. I think that's absolutely integral and I do think there's still some divides there and sometimes I see things, particularly on social media, where it's a bit disappointing Some of the comments, disparaging comments from different generations at each other, but that takes time and it's something that I'm doing a lot of work on as well through some of my activism. So overall I feel very positive and inspired and I just hope I mean I kind of hope one day I won't need to do what I do because age inclusivity will be the norm, but until then, it's just exciting to see where society and this movement's going.Speaker 1:
Well, it's very exciting to have you as a guest on older women and friends, and you are indeed a friend and I appreciate it so much. And my very last question is because most of the listeners to this podcast will be Well, I was going to say will be from the States, but that's not exactly true. I'm getting some listeners around the world, which is very exciting, but can we here in the States order your products?Speaker 2:
Yeah, absolutely we ship to over 32 countries and actually we have quite a lot of customers in the US, so it's our second biggest market. So yeah, you can absolutely order in the US, no problem at all. And you can go on you can choose and see things in dollars as well, so that can help as well.Speaker 1:
Oh, fabulous. Okay, so, everybody, you ought to go check out thebiascutcom and I will put the other links to some of the projects that we've talked about, and thank you so much. This has been a blast and actually I think I'm going to go online once we finish and see if I can order up a few things so amazing. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of older women and friends Speaking of friends, please tell yours about this podcast and if you'd like to contact me with comments or suggestions, you can email me at older women and friends podcast at gmailcom. And while you're at it, please take a few minutes to write a review. It's really easy Go to Apple Podcast type in older women and friends, scroll down the page and click on reviews. Until next time.